Title:
Collapsible container with drainage opening
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container having a generally circular bottom, an outer, continuous wall, a spring for supporting the outer wall in a generally cylindrical form, and a circular top with an opening therein through which articles to be stored or carried may pass through. The bottom is configured with a water drainage hole, so that water that does not escape through the mesh may nevertheless drain from the container. Internal partitions may be provided to help organize item to be carried or stored in the container.



Inventors:
Fenster, David S. (Ramsey, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/220393
Publication Date:
03/16/2006
Filing Date:
09/06/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
383/104, 383/117, 383/67
International Classes:
B65D30/22; B65D30/04; B65D30/16; B65D33/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HICKS, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David Aker (Hartsdale, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A container comprising: a generally circular bottom; an outer wall; a spring for supporting the outer wall in a generally cylindrical form; a circular top with an opening therein through which articles to be stored or carried may pass; a bottom configured with a water drainage hole, so that water that drains from the container; and compartments in said container for placement of items to be disposed in said container.

2. The container of claim 1, wherein the outer wall is substantially continuous.

3. The container of claim 1, wherein the outer wall is formed of a mesh.

4. (canceled)

5. The container of claim 1, wherein the water drainage hole is defined by a grommet in said bottom.

6. The container of claim 1, wherein the grommet is formed of one of a corrosion resistant metal and a polymer.

7. The container of claim 1, wherein the bottom is configured with additional drainage hole.

8. The container of claim 7, wherein the drainage holes are arranged in a geometric array.

9. The container of claim 1, wherein the bottom is formed of a flexible material.

10. The container of claim 1, wherein the bottom is formed of nylon or vinyl.

11. The container of claim 1, further comprising a fabric strip fastened along a length of the container.

12. The container of claim 11, wherein said fabric strip is of a length which limits expansion of said container due to action of said spring.

13. The container of claim 1, wherein said opening in said top has an oval shape.

14. The container of claim 1, wherein said opening in said top has an circular shape and is substantially as large as said top.

15. The container of claim 1, further comprising a first circular pocket for receiving a top of said spring, and a second circular pocket for receiving a bottom of said spring.

16. The container of claim 15, wherein the first circular pocket and the second circular pocket each receive substantially two turns of said spring.

17. The container of claim 1, further comprising a pocket disposed to spiral along said wall and to receive a portion of said spring.

18. The container of claim 1, wherein the compartments are defined by at least one partition within said container extending horizontally across said container and vertically in said container in a direction in which said container expands.

19. The container of claim 18, wherein said at least one partition comprises a first partitions dividing the container into two compartments, a first of said compartments being larger than a second of said compartments.

20. The container of claim 19, wherein said at least one partition comprises a second partition dividing the second compartment into a first sub-compartment and a second sub-compartment, said first sub-compartment being larger than said second sub-compartment.

21. The container of claim 20, wherein said first compartment, said first sub-compartment and said second sub-compartment are each defined in part by the outer wall.

Description:

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) from provisional application Ser. No. 60/607,282 filed on Sep. 4, 2004, which is incorporated by reference herein, in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to collapsible containers. More particularly, it relates to containers that may be used to carry various small items such as those that may be used for personal hygiene, and may be exposed to a wet environment.

2. Prior Art

Generally, there have been a variety of containers that may be used to carry personal items. Some take up a relatively large space. Others are not suitable for use in wet environments.

A typical situation in which a variety of personal items, such as personal care items, must be carried is the college dormitory. Often a group of students share a bathroom or shower. Students each have their own personal care items, such as razors, a toothbrush, soap, etc. There generally is no location to leave such items in a commonly used bathroom or shower, nor would students wish to do so.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the invention to provide a collapsible container that can be used to store and to transport such personal items.

It is a further object of the invention to provide such a container that is low in cost and usable in a wet environment.

It is another object of the invention to provide a container that can be exposed to a stream of water, but in which the water will not accumulate.

These objects and others are achieved in accordance with the invention by providing a container having a generally circular bottom, an outer, continuous wall, a spring for supporting the outer wall in a generally cylindrical form, and a circular top with an opening therein through which articles to be stored or carried may pass through. The bottom is configured with a water drainage hole, so that water that does not escape through the mesh may nevertheless drain from the container. The container may have a series of partitions, preferably of different sizes, for storing articles placed therein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing aspects and other features of the present invention are explained in the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawing, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an apparatus in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 2 is an additional, simplified, perspective view of an apparatus in accordance with FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an additional, partial perspective view of an apparatus in accordance with FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is an additional, perspective view of an apparatus in accordance with FIG. 1, shown in its collapsed state.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the invention with internal partitions.

FIG. 6 is a plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a perspective view of a container 10 incorporating features of the present invention, in its expanded form, ready for use. Although the present invention will be described with reference to the embodiments shown in the drawings, it should be understood that the present invention can be embodied in many alternate forms of embodiments. In addition, any suitable size, shape or type of elements or materials could be used.

The container 10 has a circular bottom 12 formed of a flexible material that may be, for example nylon, a vinyl, or other flexible fabric. At the center of bottom 12 is a grommet 13, formed of, for example, a non-corroding metal, or a plastic material, that defines an opening 14 through which water may drain. It will be understood that when container 10 is used to hold items, such a personal care items, bottom 12 will be displaced slightly downward (in FIG. 1) due to the weight of such items, and opening 14, located at the center of bottom 12, will be in an optimum position to provide excellent drainage.

The outer cylindrical wall 16 of container 10 can be made of a mesh formed of, for example, nylon, having substantially circular openings with diameters of about 0.125 inches. It will be understood that such opening will facilitate drainage of water through the side of container 10, rather than from the bottom. However, due to the flexible nature of the bottom, a concavity for the accumulation of water would be formed with any item stored therein. Thus opening 14 is still necessary to assure proper drainage. However, wall 16 may be made of a continuous fabric, without openings therein. The opening 14 in bottom 12 will still assure excellent drainage of water.

Container 10 may be configured with a top 18 having a generally oval opening 20 formed therein through which the items to be stored or carried in container 10 may pass. Alternatively, the opening may encompass substantially the entire top.

In that region where the periphery of top 20 connects to wall 16, a continuous circular pocket 22 is formed. Further, in that region where the periphery of bottom 12 connects to wall 16, a continuous circular pocket 24 is formed. The interiors of pocket 22 and pocket 24 are connected by a continuous pocket 26 (not shown in FIG. 2) which may be sewn to the outside of wall 16 so as to spiral up wall 16 as shown in FIG. 1.

Container 10 is maintained in the expanded state shown in FIG. 1 by a spring wire (not shown). Two turns of one end of this spring are disposed in pocket 22, and two turns of the other end of this spring are disposed in pocket 24. Approximately two turns of the center of this spring are disposed in pocket 26. A short length of plastic tubing (not shown) is disposed in each of pockets 22 and 24. The respective ends of the wire are received in these lengths of tubing so that no sharp point is available to tear the fabric from which pockets 22 and 24 is formed. The fit into these tubings should be relatively tight to assure that there is little chance of their moving with respect to the wire so that the respective ends of the wire are removed from the tubing. On the other hand the fit should not be so tight as to make assembly unduly difficult.

Container 10 may have a handle 28, comprising, for example a textured nylon fabric, sewn to the joining region of top 20 and pocket 22, at each end thereof. Further, for reasons of appearance, and to add a bit of strength, a fabric strip 30 may be sewn along the length of container 10 (preferably on the outside surface of wall 16, but under pocket 26, at the intersection of strip 30 and pocket 26), extending from pocket 22 to pocket 24.

Container 10 may be collapsed by merely pushing bottom 12 and top 20 toward one another. The spring is collapsed, and container 10 assumes a pancake shape shown in FIG. 4.

For purposes of transportation for sale, or for transportation by, for example a student from home to college, container 10 may be kept in the collapsed state by using an elastic band (not shown). Alternatively, handle 28 may be made somewhat shorter than shown, and of an elastic material, and used for this purpose.

While the container has been described with one opening 14, it will be understood that bottom 12 may have a plurality of similar openings disposed in any one of several geometric arrays. The exact configuration is not critical, as long as adequate drainage of water is possible.

The collapsible container in accordance with the invention may be constructed in a variety of sizes. In accordance with one embodiment, the container is approximately 7.5 inches in diameter and 11.75 inches in its expanded state shown in FIG. 1. It may be collapsed so that when in the state shown in FIG. 4, it is less than 0.5 inch high, thus facilitating storage, shipping in quantity, and carrying during a move from one location to another.

The embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIG. 5 and FIG. 6 may be a container 50 of approximately eight inches in diameter and approximately six inches high, and having a handle 52. A first vertical partition 54 generally separates the container 50 into a first compartment 56 and a second compartment shown generally as 58, with compartment 56 being somewhat larger than compartment 58. A second vertical partition 59 generally separates the second compartment 58 into a two compartments 60 and 62, with compartment 60 being somewhat larger than compartment 62. The result is that various items 70 (FIG. 5), to be placed in container 50, may be organized and stored in a compartment of the most appropriate size for the item. As for the previously described embodiment, a grommet 13, formed of, for example, a non-corroding metal, or a plastic material, defines an opening 14 through which water may drain.

It should be understood that the foregoing description is only illustrative of the invention. Various alternatives and modifications can be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variances.